Experts from Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor, which regularly publishes reports on the development of the ASF situation in neighbouring countries, has expressed concerns that, this year, the virus may penetrate previously unaffected European Union (EU) countries.
"Rosselkhoznadzor expects a merger of the affected zones of ASF in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and the spread of ASF to other EU countries. We also see an intensification of the epizootic progress of ASF in Ukraine, which threatens neighbouring countries as well," stated a report from the Russian veterinary body.
Russian vets have said the measures so far taken by the veterinary authorities in countries affected with ASF are inadequate and cannot prevent the epidemic spreading to new territories. According to information from Rosselkhoznadzor, in the period from March-June, nearly 200 outbreaks of ASF were reported among wild boars across the Baltic States and Poland.
In addition to this, on 16 June the first outbreak this year of ASF among domestic pigs has been reported at a pig farm in Latvia. "The outbreak in the Dubni district has forced the Food and Veterinary Service (FVS) to cull 18 pigs," stated the press-secretary of FVS Anna Joffe. "The last outbreak of ASF [among domestic pigs] was reported on 17 September 2014. In total, 574 domestic pigs were culled last year in Latvia, due to ASF."
Last Friday (26 June), an outbreak of ASF among domestic pigs was reported in the Chernihiv Oblast of Ukraine. There is still no information on how many pigs have been affected. At the end of May Rosselkhoznadzor stated that the spread of ASF in Ukraine posed a threat to pig farmers in Belarus, Poland and Russia.
The report said it was important to note that a significant proportion of the pig populations in countries in Eastern Europe did not have adequate biosecurity measures to withstand the threat of ASF.
Russian veterinary experts believe that, for the most part, the disease moves west via two main routes – northern and southern. The first route goes through the Baltic States and Poland, which poses risks that the epidemic may soon reach regions of Germany and the Czech Republic. The southern way encompasses Ukraine and, via this route, the disease could penetrate Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova.
Rosselkhoznadzor has not ruled out the possibility that outbreaks of the disease in these countries may have occurred already this year, especially given the fact that the virus becomes more active during the warm summer and autumn months.